64 Corvair caught on fire bigtime! What do I do now?

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64CorvairEd
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64 Corvair caught on fire bigtime! What do I do now?

Post by 64CorvairEd »

Hello all,

I'm not sure what to do. I bought a 64 Corvair in Los Angeles and half way back to Phoenix the engine caught on fire. Smoke filled the car and I had to bail out. I tried to put the fire out but couldn't. It got really big and I watched it burn for ten minutes until the firefighters got there. I want to fix the car myself. Everything looks burned in the engine compartment but I don't know how to tell which parts I can keep and which parts I need to replace. From there I'm not sure how to decide whether to work on this engine or throw it out and get a new old one and work on that. I have no idea.

I know close to nothing about classic car mechanics but I've worked on vintage motorcycles quite a bit over the last five years. Any help would be great! Even better if anyone is in the Phoenix / Scottsdale area and doesn't mind coming to take a look. A lot of parts burned. I need to learn how to replace the electrical wires.

I'm 28 years old a spent everything I had on the car so budget is definitely a factor in all the decisions I make on this. Any guesses on what it will cost to get running again?

Thanks so much and I look forward to riding amongst you! I'll try to post some pics.

Ed


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kYwUPOn7mkE
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64CorvairEd
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Re: 64 Corvair caught on fire bigtime! What do I do now?

Post by 64CorvairEd »

Another pic
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jennirw
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Re: 64 Corvair caught on fire bigtime! What do I do now?

Post by jennirw »

I purchased a 1964 Rampside from a junkyard that had burnt, not as bad as yours, the left carb & aircleaner had all the paint burnt off, the wiring and fuel lines were gone and anything else combustable on the left side. I replaced the fuel lines and wiring and was able to get it started without replacing or rebuilding the carb. It must have not gotten hot enough to melt or hurt the rubber in the carb.
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Mountain Pilot
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Re: 64 Corvair caught on fire bigtime! What do I do now?

Post by Mountain Pilot »

Don't give up as yet, it is not as bad as it looks. :wave:

If you need a set of carbs, I will send a set to you, they will need rebuild...

How bad does the Alternator look? Burnt or did it survive?

Engine bay wiring will need replacement, I will look through my stuff and if I got one I will send it to you also.

I do have a spare airfilter setup for a '64, how does that one look?

Lid if not warped should be OK to repaint.

Rest looks like some sandblasting and repaint will repair the sheet metal OK ::-):
Richard Cutter
Monte Vista, Colorado

1960 700 Sedan / 1964 Spyder, Conv. / 1964 Monza Sedan
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flat6_musik
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Re: 64 Corvair caught on fire bigtime! What do I do now?

Post by flat6_musik »

Oh mannn, Ed. Really a bummer there, really sucks. Well, time to assess things. I'd say (agreeing with Mtn. Pilot) that you could eyeball that engine lid and see if it's warped; if not, send it out to have it media blasted or just strip it and sand it yourself. First thing I'd do is try to wash down the engine compartment and top of engine with a parts brush and some green degreaser soap (Harbor Freight) being very careful not to let any water down past those melted carbs. I think once you get the engine comp. wiring redone, it MAY be downhill from there. I've got a feeling that maybe things didn't get ridiculously hot. I'd heave that alternator too.....wouldn't wanna take a chance on another electrical fire from something fried inside. I was also wondering (hoping) that even the fan bearing and idler pulley bearing aren't overheated and ruined. I'd change them too. Fuel pump--chuck it. Fuel lines--re-do. You're going to even have to crawl under the car and take a look at the wiring harness up above the starter to see if it's not crispy too.

I've got a feeling that the fan isn't magnesium.....at least I don't think so.....thank gawd it didn't go up.

BTW, welcome to the forums......too bad it had to start off like this.

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Trip
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Re: 64 Corvair caught on fire bigtime! What do I do now?

Post by Trip »

(There is an excellent Corvair club in the Phoenix area, join up and you'll make some friends who will be a great help in getting her fixed)

I'm very sorry to hear about your bad luck =( Generally if you look in the right places a good used Corvair engine (needing carb rebuild usually) can be had pretty cheap. It might be better to go that route, but I'd start first by assessing what actual damage was done to the engine itself. Start with the basics.. compression test etc.

I'm very happy to see the whole car wasn't destroyed, the interior etc. looks beautiful. It really does look like a pretty easy fix. You did the right thing posting here for help, since your automotive and particularly Corvair knowledge is limited it will be a great help if you can hook up with some local Corvair enthusiasts. I know if you were anywhere near me I'd be there on your next day off helping you to get her fixed up.

We need more young Corvair addicts, I'm one of the young ones myself at age 31. I just got a good friend of mine to finally buy a Corvair last week, he is age 26 =).

Corvairs are very simple cars that are easy and usually not too expensive to fix. My guess as to what happened is that there may have been mouse nesting under the top engine shroud... but that is only a guess.

I'm glad you posted this as a reminder to the rest of us to always carry a fire extinguisher. I have gotten a bit lax about this myself and your post has motivated me to put one in each car. I hope you had full coverage insurance so you get a payout to fix the car. If this is the case it is quite likely you'll get a bigger payout than what you'll actually need to fix the car (depending on how perfect it has to be, if it is say a concours resto it would be WAY more expensive).

I never carried full coverage when I was younger because the cost was way too high, but I've been carrying it since age 28 or so. Full coverage now costs me less than minimum liability 10 years ago.
Ray "Trip" Rodriguez III
Gouldsboro, PA
66 Corsa 140 coupe
65 Corsa 180 Turbocharged coupe
64 Monza Convertible
61 Air conditioned Monza coupe (Missy's)
See them here: https://tinyurl.com/ydc7txrf

64CorvairEd
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Re: 64 Corvair caught on fire bigtime! What do I do now?

Post by 64CorvairEd »

First and foremost a huge thank you for your support and advice. It really warms my heart in what has been a difficult time.

The bright side is that hopefully in a matter of months I will have a running car that I know pretty well inside and out. The not-so-bright side is that I spent everything I had on this car, am completely out of cash, and my cheap insurance is not going to help.

It isn't the car's fault. I had a lot of time in the desert to bond with it. Selling what is left of it is definitely not an option. I love this car and it's my car.

Unfortunately, the rear hood (?) is noticeably warped from the heat. The rear body plate (areas around license plate) and rear side panels also have bubbling and chipping. Any purely esthetic issues will have to wait though.

The alternator looks alright but I like the thinking in flat6_musik 's comment. The air filter is toast.

Here is a first draft of my to do list:

1. Purchase shop manual
2. I have no idea

I have reached out to the Arizona Corvair guys through this forum. Unfortunately I work on Wednesday nights when they get together. I just posted an hour ago so I will wait on that and hopefully get some good advise and maybe someone who is willing to come check her out in exchange for a couple beers.

I'm ready to go on the rebuild. Where can I start? Is cleaning the parts a good idea? I definitely don't want to cause further damage. It was running really well before the fire.

I'm not a speed guy. My goal is to do quality work and have a daily driver (this is my only car) as reliable as possible. Fuel lines without question must be rebuilt/replaced and leak free. Electrical, which I know very little about, must all be replaced in the back. New battery, left carb, possibly right carb, belt, and everything that was rubber in the engine compartment. I have started to look on ebay but I am incapable of saying whether a part is good or not.

Thank so much again! I got a taste of Corvair driving in the four hours before the fire and can't wait to feel that again!

Edward

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Trip
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Re: 64 Corvair caught on fire bigtime! What do I do now?

Post by Trip »

64CorvairEd wrote: Electrical, which I know very little about, must all be replaced in the back. New battery, left carb, possibly right carb, belt, and everything that was rubber in the engine compartment.
Edward
Edward, you are going in with a great attitude and that is a wonderful thing (and perhaps the most important). Lucky for you the Corvair is a very simple car to work on compared to nearly anything else.

The wiring harness for the engine room is basically all once piece that connects at the firewall. One of those should be pretty easy to come by and hooking it up will be a snap (especially with a manual to go by). Seriously, there are only a handful of connections on it. Unfortunately the piece of harness directly forward of the engine harness is probably all melted too, but again there aren't a whole lot of wires so you should just be able to snip off what is damaged and fix it. I've never actually got my hands on a car that was damaged the way yours was, so I don't exactly know what to expect but it is certainly nothing insurmountable =)

As far as parts like that engine harness, you'll almost certainly be better off going through us and the club guys. Anybody with an early model parts car laying around might have a harness for you. If this was a couple months down the road I'd probably have one for you myself, just slightly singed from a tiny little fire mishap of my own a couple years back, but unfortunately that car is still doing daily driver duty till I've got the 62 body ready to take over so I can't yank the harness out just yet. You will probably need a generator and voltage regulator, I have "probably good" spares of both but shipping on that generator would be killer from the east coast. Still if you don't find a better option I'll try to hook you up.

Once you've got the electrical fixed up I'd probably start with a compression test to see if the engine got hot enough to do any real damage. Again, I've never dealt with a car that had been on fire so I'm not totally sure but take it one step at a time and you'll get there.

You may have had an awful start, but an experience like this might lead you to discover what a fantastic community there is in the Corvair hobby. I'm not a terribly social person, but my trips to the "DACC Corvair Homecoming" in detroit the past two years (600 miles each way in my Corsa coupe) have been pretty much the most fun vacations I've had in my adult life.

The only thing I ask is to pay it forward. Whatever help Corvair folks give you, try to make it up by helping somebody else out in the future when you find yourself in a position where you can. That, and once you've got you'r car straightened out (likely with help from other Corvair folks) try not to disappear on us! We'd really like to see you become a member of our little community =)
Ray "Trip" Rodriguez III
Gouldsboro, PA
66 Corsa 140 coupe
65 Corsa 180 Turbocharged coupe
64 Monza Convertible
61 Air conditioned Monza coupe (Missy's)
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PHX65CorsaHT
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Re: 64 Corvair caught on fire bigtime! What do I do now?

Post by PHX65CorsaHT »

Hey Edward. Sorry to hear about fire. What part o f valley are you? I am not not experienced with early models but may be able to lend a hand. Corvairs are corvairs to a certain degree.
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96 4Runner, 06 Sequoia, 65 Corvair Coupe

zappaz
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Re: 64 Corvair caught on fire bigtime! What do I do now?

Post by zappaz »

thats a bummer but hey the loveafair is young . it aint gona be as bad as u would think keep the chin up and once u get it cleaned up u will surprized on wat survives and the deck lid if u or a buddy has a tourch its a prime time to learn how to use heat for body work chances are yr tins saved the motor from the heat so its gona be nickel and dimes good luck

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Crazy George
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Re: 64 Corvair caught on fire bigtime! What do I do now?

Post by Crazy George »

Well , that really sucks. :sad5: Sorry about this little mishap, but first , I would like to share my thoughts and help maybe. Don't chuck any thing away. I believe it should be said replace those items . I see a plug for the fuel pump, so there may be a electric fuel pump in this car. Infront of the alternator looks like a pressure regulator maybe. Possible fuel leak at the vent of that carb by the battery, but I believe you had a dead short near the battery looking at the picture. If the head is fine after checking compression , I would replace the carbs if not damage when you inspect, and rebuilt the carbs which ever you do. Check the top fan bearing for movement . I mystery oil mine on the vehicle. plugs wires fanbelt. simple . Your alternator appears to be missing a support bracket and has a internal voltage regulator. I don't see a voltage regulator in your engine compartment. Depending on what you do with the alternator, save it. I have a stock alternator that I believe is still good off a 65 , but will need the outside voltage regulator . You get yourself a wire harness and let me know if you need this alternator I have and I will give it to you. I may also have the voltage regulator , I would have to look. I am sure your wires to the starter are toast . I would check your starter , replace all wires to it. Be sure to look underneat the car good for any other damage. Other than that, I believe I have a 64 service book extra , I just have to look around if you want it. I have mostly late models and 64 under is new to me, but its still a corvair. You let me know , 207-474-6617 or ctryewe@hotmail.com I spoke to Grymms and he was putting out a PM to see if someone could maybe asist you some . I am in Maine, gas is to high to drive over. Good luck and don't forget there are alot of good people here and more smarts than me. Just ask? CraZy GeorGe :guitar:

64CorvairEd
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Re: 64 Corvair caught on fire bigtime! What do I do now?

Post by 64CorvairEd »

I can't thank you guys enough.

I've been spending every spare second of my time researching like crazy all of these issues. I'm going to start by cleaning the engine and surrounding area as best as I can. Any tips on how to do this without causing further damage? I don't want to push ash down into anything for instance...

I've begun to make a list a parts as well. Battery, battery cables, spark plugs, spark plug cables, carburetors and rebuild kits, fuel lines and connections, fan belt, engine body seal, air filters, fuel pump, alternator, wiring harnesses, oil dipstick boot and all other rubber in the back... It's a little overwhelming but I'm going try to save up while paying off the car and tackle one thing at a time. If anyone has parts they'd be willing to throw my way I would be so happy. I know I made a mistake putting everything I had and then some into the car purchase. I love the car but it has me in a really tight spot now.

After cleaning out all the ash and burnt parts I'm going to try to strip and paint the engine compartment. I'm not sure whether there are parts that I should avoid painting or if anyone has tips and techniques, favorite brands of paint, stripping product, ec. (please remember that I am a total rookie...) I'm going to continue researching. I'm not sure what the proper steps are for this but it sounds like something I can do that will clean things up real nice without having too spend much. I'm going to be working on it every day.

I hope to get to meet some of you. It's great to feel a part of this community of enthusiasts. I will document the whole process and post progress. She might not be too pretty in the back for a long time but I'll be so happy if she's running again soon! Which reminds me...what should I do to keep the warped back hood from rusting?
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ron l
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Re: 64 Corvair caught on fire bigtime! What do I do now?

Post by ron l »

Short of prepping and painting it correctly you won't really stop the rust. You might hold it off for a while, but it'll come back. How long are you thinking? If you're eventually going to replace it since it is warped then strip it with aircraft stripper, etch-prime, and Rustoleum it. One of their reds might be really close to yours.
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azdave
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Re: 64 Corvair caught on fire bigtime! What do I do now?

Post by azdave »

I think you should not worry about any cosmetics at this time. Only paint and repair the parts that need to be removed/replaced as you get the car mechanically sound and running. Once you get it drivable then you can worry about the cosmetics. I would not try to repair the deck lid if you see signs of warping. It's too easy to get a new lid from a parts car.

How far have you started on the engine evaluation? If there is any chance that water got into the engine you must deal with that now or it will only get much worse.
Dave W. from Gilbert, AZ
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64CorvairEd
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Re: 64 Corvair caught on fire bigtime! What do I do now?

Post by 64CorvairEd »

Here are a few new picks! I've starting cleaning. Thanks for your post Dave. I agree that cosmetics are way at the bottom of the list. I'm really looking for someone here in Phoenix that has some free time and might want to help guide me through the mechanics a bit. I just want to be sure I'm not doing work or getting parts that are unsafe. Its going to be a great project. Love the car and can't wait to be driving it again! Here's my phone number if anyone wants to stop by and check her out and maybe give me a few pointers. (517) 303-9777 cell. Text is ok too. Neil stopped by on Monday and helped me put together a parts list. A man named Bill is stopping by tomorrow sometime. It's great to be learning a bunch of new things about the car.
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fjp912
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Re: 64 Corvair caught on fire bigtime! What do I do now?

Post by fjp912 »

Yikes, what a horrible maiden voyage. One thing I notice is that the battery is all the way forward in the battery compartment and the positive terminal is sitting very close to some sheet metal all of which is ground. I'm wondering if there was some arcing or even contact between the positive terminal and ground and that started the fire. Was there a battery hold down in place when you got the car?

My '64 did not have a hold down when I got it. They disappear over time, and they don't necessarily fit well on newer batteries that are not the original long case Delco style. I too have a newer style battery and I found that using the 1960 style retainer works better. Clark's sells bolts the right size to use a '60 retainer in a '64. Whatever you do, use something that holds the battery centered in the battery area with the positive terminal away from anything grounded.
FRANK PERCH
Philadelphia, PA
'64 Monza Coupe

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